Giants, Hunter Pence agree to five-year, $90 million extension

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UPDATE: Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com hears that Pence’s new deal will include a no-trade clause.

1:30 p.m. ET: Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News reports that the two sides have agreed to a deal, pending a physical.

1:28 p.m. ET: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that it would be a five-year, $90 million deal.

1:18 p.m. ET: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Giants and Pence are “closing in” on a $90 million deal. The contract would carry an AAV (average annual value) of $18 million per season, topping Andre Ethier’s five-year, $85 million ($17 million AAV) extension from last year. Pence’s new deal will likely set the bar for free agent outfielders like Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury this winter.

10:08 a.m. ET: Hunter Pence is poised to do quite well in free agency this winter, but it’s possible he’ll come to an agreement with the Giants before getting a chance to hit the open market.

In an unusual scene, Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com reports that Pence and Giants president Larry Baer had a long discussion in the clubhouse “within earshot of reporters” after last night’s game in which they appeared to be discussing a new contract. Baer merely said that he was congratulating Pence for winning the team’s Willie Mac Award, given annually to the team’s most inspirational player, but the impending free agent confirmed that the two sides are discussing a contract and that a deal could be imminent.

“They’re about to get back to me, seriously,” Pence said. “So we’re either really close or really far away.”

Like, close as in he could reach an agreement before everyone scatters for the winter on Sunday?

“Yeah,” Pence said. “I’ll know shortly. We’ll just say we’re talking, I guess.”

His quotes came hours after general manager Brian Sabean called re-signing Pence the first priority among the “heavy lifting” prior to the start of the free agency period. The club also hopes to retain Tim Lincecum and Javier Lopez.

Pence has enjoyed one of his best seasons this year, batting .282/.339/.481 with 26 home runs and 94 RBI over 160 games. The 30-year-old has previously said that he would pass up free agency to sign a multi-year deal with the Giants, but he’s obviously not going to come cheaply.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.